Question: Our secretary takes full control at meetings, will not let anyone make any comments or ask any questions. We all feel very bullied by this person. What can we do?
At our monthly Owners Corporation meetings, although the whole committee including the chairperson attended, the meeting was run by our overbearing secretary. We have been told that the secretary runs the meetings because the Chairperson is inexperienced.
The secretary takes full control, will not let anyone make any comments or ask any questions. We all feel very bullied by this person. What can we do?
Answer: It’s not for the Secretary to fulfil the role of the chairperson.
I always say there’s one in every scheme. Generally, there’s one lot owner that is very passionate and likes to take control.
My view is a very black and white view: The Secretary has their role and the chairperson has their role. It’s not for the Secretary to fulfil the role of the chairperson.
The chairperson at any meeting has first right to chair the meeting and must, if they preside at the meeting. It’s not even optional. The Act states that if the chairperson presides at the meeting, they must chair the meeting. If the chairperson is not present at the meeting, then the majority of members need to nominate another member to chair the meeting. It’s not even for the Secretary to step in as a backup.
Unless you had a delegated chairperson, which could generally be the Strata Managing agent. If they’re at the meeting then as delegated chairperson, they would step in to chair the meeting. If both the appointed chairperson and the delegated chairperson were not present at the meeting, the members would need to nominate a chairperson if it was a committee meeting. It was a general meeting, the owners being the majority would nominate a chairperson.
My advice is that the Secretary should be reminded of their role. That’s outlined under Section 43 of the Act, section 42 of the strata schemes Management Act sets out the functions of the chairperson, and the main function is to chair a meeting. My view would be that it is irrelevant if the chairperson is incompetent, not capable, it is their role, and until they reappointed with another office position, they are to take that position as chairperson.
The majority of the committee members should be saying e.g. “No, Nikki’s the chairperson. Nikki should be chairing this meeting”. I think it’s taking that strong stance that everyone should fulfil their role and as Secretary, you have a role to fulfil, but as chairperson, they equally have a role to fulfil.
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